Local residents and health officials react to the new COVID-19 omicron variant

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As the cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant becomes a big topic of conversation with reported cases of the variant appearing in the United States, there are a lot of questions surrounding it.

WWAY spoke with residents, a doctor with Novant Health, and New Hanover County Health and Humans Services about the omicron COVID-19 variant.

“I just found out about it on the news, and my dad he’s pretty up to date with it. So that’s how I found out about it. It’s really no worry to me, or a concern,” said Maria Lawson, resident.

“No we’re not worried about it. Its just like, we take our precautions, always wear our masks keep distances. The same thing we’ve been doing since the beginning of the COVID,” said Chela Craig, resident.

With cases of the new variant being reported in the United States, New Hanover County’s Health and Human Services director and assistant director are preparing as best they can, because so much is unknown about this variant.

“Our concern is on standby, because we don’t have much information about the impact on the unvaccinated versus vaccinated of this particular variant, in terms of how much severe illness its causing,” said David Howard, New Hanover County health director.

Dr. David Priest, chief safety, quality and epidemiology officer with Novant Health reminds everyone that with viruses like COVID-19,  it is not new or unusual to see additional variants develop.

“The ability of nations to detect those variants continues to improve over time, meaning that their detection may occur earlier and earlier after they are created, but we will continue to still see variants discovered around the world as much as we did with the delta variant. So, don’t be surprised going forward when greek letters that we were less familiar with become household terms,” said Dr. David Priest, Novant Health’s chief safety, quality and epidemiology officer .

At this time, it’s not known whether the omicron variant is more transmissible or the symptoms associated with it, but New Hanover County HHS is still encouraging residents to get the vaccine.

“Vaccines are the most effective tools we have in our toolbox right now, and that’s what’s important, and as far as omicron is concerned we have to be patient. There’s not an instant answer to this. We have to look at the data, we have to pull the information, we have to study the science,” said Carla Turner, New Hanover County assistant health director.

New Hanover County HHS is monitoring the omicron variant, and advises community members to stay up to date on COVID-19 cases and its variants.

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